The information was required by TPR to enable it to understand whether the brewer’s final salary pension schemes were being adequately supported.
Samuel Smith failed to supply the information by the deadline set by the TPR’s statutory notice, issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. It was only submitted three months after the deadline expired and after criminal proceedings had commenced.
In May, company chairman Humphrey Smith and Samuel Smith Old Brewery pleaded guilty to neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents without a reasonable excuse, contrary to section 77(1) of the Pensions Act 2004.
Consented to or connived
Humphrey Smith was charged on the basis that he consented to or connived in the offence by the company, or caused it by his neglect.
At Brighton Magistrates’ Court yesterday (30 July), Smith was fined £8,000 and Samuel Smith Old Brewery fined £18,750. They were also ordered to pay £1,240 in costs and victim surcharges.
In response to the brewer’s “very terse tone” in its refusal to provide information, District Judge Teresa Szagun said there was a need to stop individuals from taking an obstructive approach to requests from TPR for information.
Could have been avoided
Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said the brewer could have avoided the fine and a criminal conviction by complying with its notice to provide its financial information.
“Our ability to request information is a necessary part of our regulatory toolkit and we take it very seriously when parties do not co-operate with us,” said Parish.
“People who ignore our notices asking them to provide information should expect us to launch a criminal prosecution. As Mr Smith has discovered, becoming compliant with our requests after a court summons has been served will not halt criminal proceedings.”
The case is the sixth criminal conviction secured by TPR against individuals or organisations for failing to comply with section 72 notices.